No Comment, Quotation — November 6, 2007, 12:00 am

Baudelaire on the Role of Imagination

baudelaire

C’est l’imagination qui a enseigné à l’homme le sens moral de la couleur, du contour, du son et du parfum. Elle a créé, au commencement du monde, l’analogie et la métaphore. Elle décompose toute la création, et, avec les matériaux amassés et disposés suivant des règles dont on ne peut trouver l’origine que dans le plus profond de l’âme, elle crée un monde nouveau, elle produit la sensation du neuf. Comme elle a créé le monde (on peut bien dire cela, je crois, même dans un sens religieux), il est juste qu’elle le gouverne.

It is imagination that has taught man the moral sense of color, of contour, of sound and of scent. It created, in the beginning of the world, analogy and metaphor. It deconstructs creation, and with materials gathered and arranged by rules whose origin is only to be found in the very depths of the soul, it creates a new world, it produces the sensation of the new. As it has created the world (this can be said, I believe, even in the religious sense), it is proper that it should govern it.

Charles Baudelaire, Salon de 1859: Lettres à M. le Directeur de ‘La revue française,’ III: ‘La reine des facultés’ (1859) in: Œuvres complètes p. 1038 (Pléiade ed. 1961)(S.H. transl.)

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